Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The EU Referendum

By the time you read this we will all be scurrying to the Polling Stations to vote in the EU Referendum, using those ridiculously tiny pencils firmly attached to string so we don't run off with them.

Do the powers-that-be trust us so little that they think we're going to pinch the miniature pencils?  OK, perhaps they've got a point - I've just spotted an IKEA one lurking on my desk.

I'll be relieved when it's all over.  It got to the point where I was starting to wonder if there was any other news happening - how could every bulletin be dominated with people arguing about facts, figures, calling each other liars, and generally behaving in a manner that we tell our children is unacceptable in the playground, let alone demonstrated by politicians on national television?

No matter which way it goes - be it 'in', 'out' or 'shake it all about' - at least we'll have a definitive answer, although I seem to remember they also said that about the Scottish Referendum.

Thank goodness then for TV programmes like 'Rescue Dog to Super Dog' which provide a welcome respite from all the political bickering.

If you haven't seen it, two dog trainers selected rescue dogs and paired them with people who needed assistance dogs for their various medical conditions.

In the first episode there was a young girl called Emily who had narcolepsy and a disorder which caused her to collapse on an alarmingly regular basis.  She was paired with a stray cross-breed dog called Poppy, who was trained to wait by her side when she collapsed, effectively guarding her.

We also met Alan, who had Tourette's, and his rescued Labrador called Parker whom he re-named Duke.  Parker/Duke was trained to distract Alan during his Tourette tics, to fetch his medication and to even pull the duvet off the bed when Alan's alarm went off to make sure he got up.

The change in both Emily and Alan's lives was clear, and their confidence grew due to having their assistance dogs. Truly inspiring, uplifting television.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Flying Scotsman steams through Northamptonshire

It's not every Saturday morning I stand in a field in Gretton for nearly an hour, but the first weekend in June I did exactly that.

Having first headed to Lydia's Coffee Shop for refreshments - not sure how I managed to resist the fabulous bacon butties, I must have very high levels of self-control because they smelt so good! - we walked down past the Church and made our way to Tythe Field.

The sheep that graze this corner of Northamptonshire looked slightly surprised to see their field fill with people, their usual visitors being those who travel past on the nearby railway line, who probably don't even give them a second glance.

And that's the clue to why we were all there, for this was our chosen vantage point from which to see The Flying Scotsman.

Now, I'm not usually a trainspotter, but this is quite a significant locomotive and worth the effort to catch a glimpse.

We had quite a wait as it happens - I believe there was some trouble with people on the line, or at least that's what I was told on Twitter - but eventually it arrived, steaming gracefully past us whilst giving us a toot on the whistle.

We waved at the passengers, who waved enthusiastically back at us - I even saw my friend Joan who was aboard with her husband Stephen for his significant-birthday treat.  What a lovely way to celebrate (and apologies once again for letting slip about the surprise birthday party!).

There's something about steam trains which gets those of us who aren't normally interested in trains enthused.  It's almost like we are transported back in time, or become extras in The Railway Children - although none of us were waving red flannel petticoats to make the train stop, thank goodness.  Well, not in Gretton at least.

If you missed it, The Flying Scotsman is returning to Northamptonshire on 25th June - please remember to watch it from a safe, legal place.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Now that was magic...

Well, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the Britain's Got Talent Final.

I was delighted with the eventual winner too - Richard Jones is such a talented magician, and his act for the final show was touching and I'm sure brought a tear to many an eye, mine included.

I think he was a worthy winner and a far more suitable act for the Queen and Prince Philip to watch than Alex Magala and his scary descents down scaffolding poles onto drills or chainsaws.  What was left for him to nearly land upon - crocodiles, or a tank filled with man-eating piranhas perhaps? 

I loved Wayne Woodward's amazing voice - his spoke like a Cockney, but his singing was pure Sinatra.  Special mention also for the dancing Storm Troopers, who made me laugh out loud with their Dirty Dancing tribute.  I'm pretty sure we haven't seen the last of Beau Dermott either, such a talented young girl.

I think Richard Jones's act reminded those of us of a certain age of what Saturday night TV used to be like, when we just had three channels from which to choose.

Paul Daniels' Magic Show was Saturday night telly for us for many years.  I still remember some of the performances - I liked the 'Bunco Booth', which was a weekly feature - and there was also the guy who blew bubbles and then filled them with cigarette smoke making shapes inside them.  I can't imagine that being shown anywhere on television these days, not unless you can get the same effect from vaping, which I somehow doubt.

I'm hoping that there's some of you reading this thinking 'Yes, I used to watch that, and I got a magic set for Christmas!' - and remember those were the days when magicians did tricks that we might have some hope of emulating, like making the little ball 'disappear' from the red cups or joining the three metal rings together.  Altogether simpler, less complicated times.